It was hardly over a month since we had moved into this beautiful little cottage a masterpiece built in true Victorian style, when I had this desire of trying my hands at gardening. Not that the place was without any plants and trees. No, it was just a pure desire to try my hands at something new, something exciting. The fresh air, the crystal clear water and the greenery around me were heady
It was months since Dad was unwell. The air pollution of the city had taken a toll on his health. A chronic asthma patient, there were days when he was in extreme pain. All this and the idea to buy a new house propelled me to consider purchasing something in the hills, something in Nature’s lap. That is how we had chanced upon this masterpiece.
Well coming back to where I left off, one fine morning unmindful of the biting cold I moved out to the backyard sickle and shovel in hand. The cold was literally biting off my finger tips, but the resolve to make my very own garden, a garden full of herbs and fruits something I could call my creation, my masterpiece was more overpowering than the cold. I started off humming a tune. My hands worked frantically. Removing the overgrown weeds I cleared a small patch in which I intended to plant some saplings of gooseberries, saplings that I had bought the previous day from the nearby Agri. Depot. I watered the clear patch to soften the mud. The smell of water mingling with mud charged me further and I started to shovel and dig deep into the earth.
Ammu my daughter brought me a glass of tea. Reluctant to stop the task I was involved in, I refused the same only to be scolded by her. Finally, I gulped the tea so fast that I scorched my taste buds. Ammu reprimanded me. The ‘dadi maa’ in her quickly brought some sugar and applied it to my burnt tongue. Thanking her I turned back to my “Mission Garden.” The rising sun, the rising temperature combined with the exertion slowly started telling on me. My hands ached, sweat beads lined my forehead and I knew it was time for a break. “Ha! Just another ten minutes,” I said to myself. “After that I will stop for an hour.” I had hardly worked for five more minutes when the shovel hit on something strong. I dug again and again but the thing would not yield. The sound of metal striking metal sent the blood racing in my veins. “Is it a burial urn,” I thought to myself. Only the other day an old lady passing by had said that there was a time when the adjacent plot was used as a burial ground. “Should I stop?”
The investigator in me suddenly came to the fore. “No, you must find out. Who knows it can be something unique, a piece of antique or an urn full of golden coins and ornaments.”
“But, what if it is something insignificant? Won’t I be wasting precious time and energy?” The simpleton in me asked.
“Even if it is so, you have nothing to lose,” the investigator said.
Finally after thinking over all the pros and cons I decided to investigate. But then I must have my entire family by my side. “Who knows it could turn out to be something scary. I need witnesses, people to support me should I faint.”
The entire family around, I started to dig. My husband joined me in the endeavour. Meanwhile Ammu and my sister’s daughter Meenu placed a bet. While Ammu said it would be a chest of gold or precious stones, Meenu said it would not be anything of significance probably something discarded by the previous owners. The wager was a treat at KFC. “Ha! Here I toil and the treat goes to someone else,” I thought and smiled.
The minutes ticked by. Thirty, twenty nine, twenty eight, twenty seven…………… and suddenly it was there exposed a beautifully carved chest in silver, something the like of which I had never seen before, something enchanting. I could not take my eyes off from it.
“Mom, come on open the chest. Looks like I am set to win,” said Ammu. Slowly with shaking hands I pried open the box only to find it filled with trinkets and toys, things that clearly stated it belonged to a child. I wondered how it had reached here deep in the soil. Suddenly I remembered my childhood days. Days when my sis and myself had this habit of hiding our valuable possession our trinkets and toys in rabbit holes and trunks of trees so that the bully next door would not lay his hands on them. I smiled and said to myself, “Probably there was a bully here around too or else why would anyone bury this beautiful chest and their childhood valuables in the earth.”
“Massi , it looks like someone lost their child and so buried this chest containing painful memories in the earth.” That was Meenu. Yes, it could be true I thought but then shirked it off. I wanted to believe only the best in this beautiful land where I planned to build a garden of my dreams. I wanted to see the earth as a giver of happiness and not as a receiver of sadness.
“No dear it’s a treasure hidden by a clever child to protect it from an invader, a bully,” I said.
But the question that remains unanswered is, “Who wins Ammu or Meenu?”
Inspired by the theme ‘TREASURE’ at
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